By Peter Anosike
Evangelist Tony Grey Okpe is the Commissioner in the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC), representing Owerri Zone.
In 2019, he was a senatorial aspirant for Imo East under the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), but as one of the foremost Hope Uzodimma disciples since 2002 when the governor first came out to contest for the coveted position, he decamped to the All Progressives Congress, when Uzodinma declared interest to occupy the Douglas House seat of power in Imo and was appointed a member of the Hope Uzodimma Campaign Council.
As a true disciple even when the result of the 2019 governorship election of Imo was announced and Emeka Ihedioha was declared winner, he did not lose hope.
In widely publicized interviews in July 2020, he made a prediction that Ihedioha was merely holding brief for Uzodinma and about seven months later, the prediction came to pass.
In this interview, he spoke on governor Uzodimma`s one year in office and on other burning national issues. Excerpt:
How do you see Governor Uzodimma`s one year in office?
My take on Governor Hope Uzodinma`s one year in office is that he has changed the narrative in Imo. I have known him over the years and I know that he has the capacity to deliver. That is why I have always stood by him. I believe in his candour. In fact, Imo State is safe under Governor Hope Odidika Uzodimma because he is an experienced capable driver. We should also look at his story as spiritual in all ramifications .The Bible states that promotion cometh neither from the East nor from the West nor from the South. But God is the judge. He puts down one and sets up another as he pleases.
Imo State no doubt was in shambles before he came in, has the situation changed?
There is a saying that seeing is believing. So, you can take a trip to Imo State to see things for yourself. Infrastructural developments are ongoing all over the state. Let me be specific a little.One year ago, no road is passable in Imo State.Even Okorocha himself confessed that it was acidic rain that destroyed the roads he built. For somebody who is not popular with the truth, telling you the level of decay in the state. Port Harcourt Road from Assumpta Cathedral was abandoned for years, thereby causing trucks and other heavy duty vehicles to divert through Yar`Adua Drive that was not built for heavy-duty vehicles. Yar`Adua Drive road was damaged by heavy duty vehicles because Port Harcourt road was impassable.But as I am talking to you Governor Uzodimma has fixed Port Harcourt road. Relief Market Road was not motorable for at least 10 years .Produce that were meant to be sold in the market wasted because they could not access the market.Today, the narrative has changed .Go to Relief Market and see a modern road network by Senator Uzodimma.There is a road called Chukwuma Nwoha .This road leads from MCC road to Egbu road.The residents of Federal Housing Estate abandoned their homes because all the houses in the estate were submerged when it rained for years. Governor Uzodimma brought a construction company that specialized on underground ballons to channel the water from the estate all the way into Lake Nwaebere and the residents of Egbu road and Federal Housing Estate now have peace. Many road projects in the state have been completed, while a lot are ongoing. Please you people in the media need to visit Imo State to see the revolution that is going on under Governor Hope Uzodinma.
There are these stories that workers are being owed in Imo State, how true is it?
You know in Imo State, the opposition will never see any good thing done by Governor Uzodimma.They are still crying over spilt milk.Their sole aim is to cast the governor of the day in bad light. Let me make it crystal clear that there is no genuine worker that is being owed in Imo State. Unless you are talking about ghost workers. Government will not pay ghost workers.
ISOPADEC is an interventionist agency to develop the oil producing ares of Imo State.Are the people better treated under Uzodimma now?
Senator Hope Uzodimma told the governing board on our inauguration to go to ISOPADEC and change the narrative. He told the governing board to have the mindset to develop the oil producing areas that have been neglected over the years. When we assumed office, I took over the position of the commissioner in charge of works and projects monitoring committee. I can tell you that it has been a fulfilling experience .My mandate from the governor is to go and change the narrative in ISOPADEC and that is my focus.There are people who like things to remain as it was, but I have resisted them because I am serving at the pleasure of the governor and I am doing what I know would please him. What good will it serve me to complete my tenure in ISOPADEC without leaving behind a legacy. I am bringing my western trained experience to bear in ISOPADEC Be rest assured that I will never allow things to be as usual at the commission. Imo must proper.Therefore ,I pledge to add value with my appointment into ISOPADEC. I have recommended to the leadership of my commission that the oil companies must play a greater role in developing the oil producing areas. I have therefore, recommended that ISOPADEC must have a 10-year development plan.The oil companies will be given the opportunity to choose the projects they would execute as corporate social responsibility to their host communities and include them in their yearly budgets. Oil companies can only do social responsibility after such projects are budgeted for annually. This is a critical avenue we must focus without delay as the monthly derivation will never be enough to develop the oil producing communities.
In 2019, you were a senatorial aspirant for Imo West, are you contemplating giving it another shot in 2023?
I believe in faith. Hebrew 11.6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God must know that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. I have been given an assignment by the governor in ISOPADEC, let me add value to the commission first. When we get to the bridge, we will know how to cross it.
What is your take in the leadership of Owerri zone?
The deputy governor is from Owerri zone, so it is only a fool that would be talking of the leadership of Owerri zone. Again, the chairman of the ruling party in Imo State is from Owerri zone.We also have other serious minded leaders like Chief Henry Njoku, Prince Henry Mbata, Ochudo Martin Agbaso, who is the Ogbohoruzo of politics in our zone.Chief Obiyo Uzoma, Chief Willy Amadi, Prof.Henry Njoku and many others who I cannot mention for lack of space. All the above names and more are progressives.They belong to Owerri zone leaders of thought and that is where I belong too.Owerri zone is in the right hands. However, if the APC is to field a winning candidate, the person to field is Senator Osita Izunaso. He is the most upright man I have ever known in my life. His words is always his bond. He is honest and humble. I will support Senator Izunaso any time, any day.
Senator Okorocha is in a running battle with the Imo government over property, what is your take?
When God asked who shall go for us, Senator Hope Uzodimma raised his hand and answered, “Lord send Me”. Our God quickly sent Senator Uzodimma to go and rescue Imo State .The damage done to Imo State by Anayo Okorocha and his family will take a minimum of 15 years to undo. Okorocha is a modern day Ahab who ruled Israel as stated in the Bible with his wife Jezebel and hey plundered, raped, looted and murdered Imo State. Okorocha should be in prison because of his crimes against Ndi-Imo . Imagine Okorocha and his family converted the new Government House extension in New Owerri into their personal esatate..Okorocha and family converted Imo Brodcasting Corporstion in Orji to their private Rochas College. Okorocha confiscated acres of land belonging to Umuodia Village in Mberi to his private property. I can go on and on on the atrocities committed by Okorocha and his family. History will never be kind to Okorocha and his family. But today, justice has caught up with Okorocha and his family.
Do you think that the governor will be different from the other governors?
Governor Uzodimma is not a stranger to me. I have known him one-on-one for decades. He is going to surprise even his worst critics.This is a man who will give his last penny to someone who he barely knows. He is a man of great faith who does not forget his friends, no matter how high or how low they are. Let me advise Imolities to hold me responsible if Senator Hope Odidika fails to deliver on his promises.Imo is in good hand.Take my word for that.